The Potential State Podcast - Enriching Relationships

Gaslighting is real. Here's how to stop it.

July 11, 2021 Dr. Assael and Galit Romanelli
The Potential State Podcast - Enriching Relationships
Gaslighting is real. Here's how to stop it.
Show Notes Transcript

Do you have a sense your partner is sticking it to you but they keep denying it?
Do you or your partner deny certain bad behaviors to each other?

We all sometimes semi-consciously act in small negative ways to our partners -  David Schnarch calls this phenomenon "Normal Marital Sadism".  After all, the opposite of love is apathy (not hatred). So we all do it.

But when one partner continuously denies aggressive, belittling, or mean relational behavior, in a way that makes their partner doubt themselves and their perception -  that is called Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is real and happens in all relationships in one form or another.

In this talk, we unpack the phenomenon of Gaslighting and it's tax on relationships, through examples from the clinic and our marriage. Practical tips will help you stop (or at least minimize) Gaslighting in your relationship today.


Click here to join our mailing list and get free resources on enriching relationships every month to your inbox.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-other-side-relationships
http://podcast.potentialstate.com/
https://www.youtube.com/c/ThePotentialState
https://www.facebook.com/ThePotentialState
https://twitter.com/assael

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=Q5AG6K7L8GYKA&source=url)
Speaker 1:

I have a question for you. Okay. So don't get defensive and try and answer. Honestly, I've noticed that every morning for over a year now, you've been making your morning yet and literally without fail every morning, there is like, there are splotches of oatmeal gunk left all over the countertops in the sink, and it just feels like it's a little intentional. What

Speaker 2:

Are you choosing me? A purposely leaving oatmeal on the , in the sink for you to clean. And you should be ashamed of herself . Even asking that, oh my God, I will never do something like this on purpose

Speaker 1:

A little bit strange that it's every morning.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God, I am taking offense. But you know, I go eat . Maybe you're right . What I just did now, I was gas. I didn't Gilead . I was denying the sin conscious negative reasoning behind me leaving oatmeal, not cleaning up after myself. That is called gaslighting . We're manipulating my reality. Exactly. And today we're going to talk about gaslighting and how to stop it.

Speaker 3:

You are listening to the potential state podcast with your hosts, Dr. Sal and gullied Romanelli.

Speaker 2:

Hi, my name is Dr . Several Minnelli and this is the intentional state. And today we're talking about gas sightings , real. Just how to stop it. Yeah . So what does the concept gas I come from from a film

Speaker 1:

From the 1940s with Ingrid Bergman. And it's about this couple that got married and the husband basically manipulates his wife's reality by going up to the attic, pretending like he's, you know, at work or there is no attic and he starts fiddling with the lights. That's why it's called lighting and moving on furniture and making all this, all these noises. And he makes her believe that she's crazy because she thinks that she's imagining all these things that are actually happening. And so he manipulates her reality until she becomes completely dependent on him. And self self is consumed by self doubt and, and just loses touch with reality.

Speaker 2:

And since then, that concept has been used in psychology to kind of describe the process when one partner is manipulating and kind of lying, denying smokescreening their partner to slowly erode their self-confidence or self perception. And just, they're basically

Speaker 1:

Saying that ,

Speaker 2:

Okay , but we want to talk about kind of the main stream, the gas. I need a couples do every single day,

Speaker 1:

Every day to day. No, I didn't. I don't know what you're talking about. I know exactly what you're talking about. And usually

Speaker 2:

The gaslighting is not necessarily about, oh my God, there is no oatmeal in the sink. It's usually going to be about the motivations behind it. Or did you purposely do it? Did you purposely ignore? Did you hear me calling you from the other room? It's really , it's usually those moments where one partner is consistently kind of denying and minimizing or both partners are doing it where

Speaker 1:

We are it couples nicely with, with own your, cause own your is the antidote to gaslighting , right? Because sometimes we are doing these kind of little passive aggressive things intentionally, but the antidote to gaslighting is by owning it and saying actually sometimes I do, or what I I could have said was I, I need to think about it. Maybe I , you know, thank you for pointing that out to me, I'll be more aware of it

Speaker 2:

Does when you get, when you consistently Gaslight and denied your part in whatever reality or partner is talking about what happens over time, they're going to not only doubt themselves, but they're not going to believe you. It's going to be the boy who cried Wolf. Like every time we're going to deny it. And their part is just going to come really, really suspicious and also doubt themselves. And slowly that's going to create distance and it's going to kind of hurt the intimacy and the trust and the vulnerability and the relationship. So we were talking about the antidote. So we want to talk about also for the gas spider and for the gas lit . So for the gas lighter , the antidote is to basically own your.

Speaker 1:

Yeah , absolutely. Be like, yeah, actually I, some sometimes I do. I don't think it needs to be kind of like an all-encompassing thing every time, because that also is, I mean, unless you really are doing it all the time, but I think it's enough to kind of be like, I need to look at that and it is quite possible because

Speaker 2:

Right. And refer to the episode of what owning your, basically, that means like taking a moment to take stock and then to admit first to yourself and then to your partner, that there might be a passive aggressive and addictive, angry re reasoning for that.

Speaker 1:

Right. And then that connects kind of with a normal marital sadism, right? Like sometimes we do want to stick it to our partner, but if we can own it and admit it, then at least we're not manipulating what they're feeling because they're feeling something, they know something is off. Exactly.

Speaker 2:

And by actually admitting it you're, you're , you're kind of liberating both of you that you create an energy and vitality and a vulnerability and the truth. Right , right. Like

Speaker 1:

There's this very clear content contract of truth where like, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna own my. And I'm going to tell you when I do things to kind of get you, because that is far better than gaslighting you and making you doubt yourself

Speaker 2:

And re refer to the episode of your faults or welcome, or you want to create a relationship. And this is where going to have to kind of think about it. It's worth your, while it's in your enlightened self-interest to show that, to show your , your shadow, to show all the little places where you're less than perfect, because then you will really feel loved refer the episode. If you want to feel loved, show your shadow. Yeah . Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And you'll be whole , right. You'll be able to be in an environment and a space where you are a hole where you can bring your light and your darkness. And,

Speaker 2:

And for the gas lit partner, it's going to be confrontation and holding onto themselves. And we can talk about the second, how to do that. I tend to give one example from the clinic this come I was working with, and it was clear that the partner, the male partner was not, didn't really want to work. He kept saying, I'm here, I'm here. It's important. It's important. Give me tools, give me tools. Every single week, I'd give him tools. He wouldn't do any work. And I think over time, what happened is the wife didn't understand what's happening. It was just like she was doubting herself and it took another four months until she finally realized he's not here. He's not really working. And that was really the turning point of the whole therapy. And I think for a lot of partners, it takes almost every couple I work with. It takes a while to help them reverse the tendency for it to gas. I'd actually go and to own their, kind of bring it

Speaker 1:

Right. Which is interesting because it's kind of as though there's this split between kind of what we say and what we do and gaslighting kind of , um , cement that gap, whereas kind of own your, which is the antidote to gas , I think kind of brings it together so that what you're saying is true with what you're feeling, what your actions are and if you're not exactly, and that's integrity. And if you're not, you know, if you're not genuinely in it, let's say in that case then to say like, I'm not ready or I'm too scared , or this doesn't sit right with me rather than like, yeah, I know I want to make progress. I want to do the work, but not actually being in it because I think that part of the idea of intimacy and kind of what you want to cultivate in a relationship or what we strive to cultivate in the relationship is the, is the closeness, right? So then you can feel what I am, you know, the emotions, as I'm saying them as I'm expressing them through words, but with gas , like there's this massive gap.

Speaker 2:

Well, let's give an example from our marriage for many years, I kind of drew Gilead's character, the kids, the angry one that kept saying, mommy's going to be angry. Don't get it . Don't do that. Oh, wait, mommy, don't make , yeah , stop being angry, stop being angry and constantly say, why are you labeling me as the angry ? And why are you turning me into the bad cop? And I kept denying it for years and years and years. And about a couple of months ago we were in dinner or something and then leaves like you're doing it again. And I caught

Speaker 1:

It. I like caught it live and had the language for it. And

Speaker 2:

We , I was like, wait. And then I said, yeah, delete. It's true. I do. I like let it land. And there was this big laughter. It was a big validation and the kids were watching and there was like, it was this whole release of energy. And I finally confessed. I came out with it and you leave . I think also

Speaker 1:

It gave you the opportunity to look inside yourself and figure out like, what is it that you have with confrontation, discipline? You know, maybe even sometimes raised voices , passion, right. A passionate conversation, which is not necessarily an angry conversation that kind of makes you shy away and kind of go all totally. Right. Um, and I think that was a really important moment for you, with yourself as well as for us in our releases

Speaker 2:

Actually. And also what happened with since guilty , when I came out and delete , like she laughed and she, she, she, she kinda [inaudible] . So it wasn't like a big dramatic moment. Yeah . I wasn't angry. I

Speaker 1:

Wasn't angry. And I think I wasn't angry because, huh , which is funny because you painted me always out to be an angry one, but I think I wasn't angry because it was kind of, I recognize how important it was as a milestone in our relationship and also how vulnerable that must've been for you to kind of reflect and admit. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So, and that moment took years of work to read it , to create a relationship. When, when you admit you're gaslighting, your partner loves you. And once again, go back to the false. And also that's

Speaker 1:

A really big one to admit that you've painted your partner as like angry. That's a really big, intense

Speaker 2:

Gaslighting moment. Well , did I confess that? All right . So how do you do this? How do you create that environment? So first of all, share this episode with your partner, had this discussion, have this common language. Now there's two ways like we're going to give tips for the gas lighter and for the gas lighted. Um, so first of all, if you're the gas, if you want to confront your part, if you feel like something's, something's not right, let's say Gilead's feeling like, Hmm . I said, I was always drawing me as the bag. So first of all, what, what I'm , what we're inviting you to do is first of all, hold onto yourself. When you actually confront your partner, come soft, start soft, don't make eye contact and kind of share what you are feeling and try to stick to the topic. Sometimes your part is going to change. Topics are being salted or do the holy Trinity of blocking. You can reference that. So stay and just stay to this point to say, listen, this is my feeling. And just stay there, try to stay close to them . Experience .

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And like, hold on to that . Right.

Speaker 2:

And don't, and don't let go and don't let go and be there be very, very clear

Speaker 1:

Possible that you know, it won't be done in one conversation. It might be well, this, you know, the conversation might end with, well, this is my experience and your, your partner being angry or insulted. And that's okay. You know, when you , the ruptures and repairs, but that doesn't mean you need to let go of your truth or how you're experiencing the situation. It just means that at the moment, your partner is not able yet to hear your experience, your narrative . And

Speaker 2:

That's what actually happened with us. Like she confronted me several times about your dry mouth to be the bad guy . Right. And then , and then,

Speaker 1:

And then I, I was able to catch it right away because I had kind of, I had developed kind of more of an awareness. So then I was, you know, live able to,

Speaker 2:

So, so that that's a segue for the gas lighter. So first of all, that you need to reflect in your core belief , choose to believe that it's worth your, while it's in your enlightened self interest. If you want to grow and develop and have a deeper relationship to own your, to not gas out your partner, to believe that you're ugly parts, your aggressive parts are also welcome that all your parts are welcomed . Okay. So that's the first of all, you're gonna have to prepare that. And then there's two ways. One is listen to your partner's complaints and let it land refer to the led Atlanta episode, because obviously as a kernel of truth and what your partner is saying. So perhaps the first 10 times they get lead said, you know, you're, you're painting me out to be the bad guy. And maybe I would have it slowly landed for me. Yeah. Okay. Because you're not always conscious that you are guests, sometimes you are, and then it's easier to admit, but sometimes you're not even aware of it. Right. Okay. And I think if you can, first of all, just let that land and just let it simmer. And don't just flat out deny and say, wait, maybe

Speaker 1:

I need to, I need to think about that. Or I need to notice, or please direct my attention to that next time it happens. I think that that's also fair. Um, but stay open. I think that's the point rather than deflect or getting defensive and kind of shutting the conversation down, just stay open and very curious.

Speaker 2:

And if you are, if you're listening to this and you think, okay, there are places that you're conscious that you're gaslighting write them down and slowly like bite-size confess them, create a space before that prepare a partner that we're in a loving space, don't grow . Don't grill me on every confession I have. But so what's going to happen as you're sharing. This is you're going to feel this, this, this liberation, this freedom to be yourself. And for the part of who's listening to it, don't use it like, don't say, hi, this is not

Speaker 1:

Like editing . There's no payback for this, this isn't, you know, something that you like keep in your arsenal for the next fight. This is, this is a moment of truth between both of you. And that should be kind of celebrated and used for the future .

Speaker 2:

So that's the way to stop gas lighting , go out, confess for your , stay curious and playful and open. This was going to be Romanelli where the potential state see the next time

Speaker 3:

You've been listening to the potential state podcast for more information, visit us@potentialstate.com. Thanks for listening.